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08 May 2008 @ 07:42 pm
WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE  

Original Airdate: 1/5/2005
Written By: Damon Lindelof, Jennifer Johnson
Directed By: Jack Bender
Character: Kate
Days Twenty One-Twenty Two

Whatever the case may be, this episode is first and foremost about trying to dig up secrets that just want to stay hidden. We open playfully on Kate and Sawyer having sexy jungle banter. Despite Sawyer's professed motive of protecting Kate from the same menace that kidnapped Claire and almost killed Charlie (not to mention the mysterious pilot-eating monster), we're not feeling the danger. Perhaps it's the bright sunlight, or the pretty people, or the waterfall that mysteriously appears out of nowhere, leading to more sexy (and naked) jungle banter. In any case, we're all in for a little shock when Sawyer and Kate discover those two bodies hidden at the base of the waterfall, and just like that, we're back. This small moment of pleasure, which Sawyer so gleefully points out to Kate is something they deserve, is now over. They're brought back to earth abruptly, especially Kate, as more than just the sight of the dead bodies is troubling her. Her secrets go much deeper than what could be buried under a waterfall. This little surprise at the base of the waterfall is just the first of the secret keepers in this episode, and Sawyer and Kate the first seekers. Kate is of course the focus. Her simultaneous quest to open the Halliburton on the island mirrors her plot to get into the safety deposit box in her flashback, both of which turn out to contain the same object. But what is it, and why is it so important to her? Other quests to obtain information from a locked source include Sayid's desperate attempts to decode Rousseau's ramblings and thus obtain information that might help them to find Claire, and Locke and Boone's quest to open the door in the floor of the jungle, or what we now commonly refer to as "The Hatch." But I'll get back to those later. First, to Kate, Jack, and Sawyer.

When Kate and Sawyer first find the Halliburton she doesn't hesitate to claim it as her own, perhaps forgetting the possible difficulty she'll face in trying to get it open, or the difficulty in having Sawyer there with her. So when he confronts her, accurately, about it not being hers, she doesn't lie and admits it isn't. She then goes on to do something rather strange, considering her knowledge of Sawyer. Maybe she thinks she's fooling him, lulling him into a state of denial where he believes that she doesn't give a rat's ass what's inside that case, but she's not fooling him and we all know it. This is only the first of many deceptions and yes, cons, that we see coming from Kate in this episode. Maybe that's why she just lets him have it: she knows you can't play a master at his own game and expect to win. And so the next time we see her, she's lost in thought on the beach, watching Sawyer like a hawk, waiting for her moment: to catch him unawares. This is desperate behavior, here. She has no sense of planning whatsoever; she's just flying by the seat of her pants, hoping against hope that she'll be able to get it away from him. Clearly, she was lying about not wanting it. The proof eventually ends up, kicking and head-butting, caught in between Sawyer's legs. And after a failed attempt to steal it away from under Sawyer's nose as throws it futilely down a cliff, she eventually gives up and heads to the next possibility: Jack.

Now, Jack isn't Sawyer. He can be conned. What's more, he has an authority over Sawyer that Kate just doesn't have. This is the point in the episode where Kate's other main tactic, and the other major motif of the episode, becomes clear. I've talked before about the importance of being
"of use" on this show, something that applies to Shannon a little later on, but on the other end of the spectrum is using someone, or being used, in order to achieve an end. So when Kate goes running to Jack, professing that her desire to get the case from Sawyer has everything to do with keeping guns out of his hands, she knows that he won't turn away from that, even if he may suspect that something is in it for Kate, which he does. He can't take the chance that yet another burden of guilt could be put upon his manly shoulders; he can't fail anyone else, and Kate knows it. What's more, I suspect she also has an inkling of the power she herself holds over him. Kate is a woman who isn't afraid of using her sexuality to get what she wants, if she deems the end result worthy enough. She certainly wants that case open badly enough, and its contents safely in her hands, to do almost anything. She can't risk her secrets being exposed, so she spins a story out of the facts that she knows Jack won't refuse. Why? Because she knows that Sawyer will listen to Jack, for whatever reason, and because she needs Jack to get the case open. Kate tells Jack that the case belonged to the Marshal, and that he kept the key in his wallet, which Jack buried with his body. For whatever reason, just having the case away from Sawyer isn't enough; she needs what's inside, just like she needed so badly to get inside that bank vault.

The first scene of Kate's flashback starts off innocuously enough with Kate sitting in a bank waiting to be approved for a loan. The bank's manager asks her some friendly questions about her life: her name, her job, why she's in town, etc. She lies about all of them. This really doesn't surprise us as an audience. We know from
Tabula Rasa that Kate is on the run for committing an as yet unknown crime, and that she's presumably in the habit of using fake names and occupations in order to avoid detection. What we didn't know was how good she was at it; she charms the pants off that banker, smiling and flirting, and later, even bleeding for her cause. The performance she gives inside that bank is worthy of Sawyer; it's no wonder that he is so strongly attracted to her. In many ways, they're very much alike. But for once, Sawyer isn't the one using people. Kate is. She starts with the bank manager, getting into his good graces so that later she'll be the perfect victim for the bank robbers. So that he'll feel sorry for her because of their connection and give up the vault keys; so it will mean something to him if she's killed. "I don't know how to use a gun!" Yeah right, Kate. Sure. What's more, once inside the vault, it's revealed to us that Kate, nee Maggie, has been using her co-conspirators as well. She want to rob the bank at all; she just wants the contents of one safety deposit box that would have otherwise been unavailable to her because her name isn't on the signatory card. She even has the second key. In her favor, she does seem to know the bad guys from the good guys, despite using them both with equal abandon, and shoots the would-be robbers when they threaten to kill the manager. And all of that, the lying and scheming and bank-robber kissing, for one little item. Lying to Jack doesn't seem all that bad in comparison. In fact, it's bad enough that Jack knows about Kate's fugitive status. Even though she once offered to tell him her crime, I think it would devastate her if Jack knew just exactly what sort of person he was falling in love with. All the hairy, scary details. She doesn't even want to face them herself.

We shouldn't be all that surprised then when, after digging up the Marshal's body and pretending to drop the wallet because of maggots, Kate palms the key. Jack certainly isn't, and his suspicions are confirmed. Kate is hiding something, and it must be pretty bad. Sawyer tells him later, "I know you think you're doing her a favor. But however she talked you into doing this, she lied, brother." And just this once, Jack believes him. The funny thing about Jack, though, is that it doesn't matter. He made a promise to Kate, and he's going to keep it. Both Sawyer and Jack spend this entire episode trying to get the case open. Sawyer, for his own curiosity, and most likely as some sort of warped bonding attempt with Kate, and Jack because Kate asks him to. Both of them, however, are in essence trying to do the same thing: in the process of opening the case, they both hope to get Kate to open up as well, and spill her own secrets. It's interesting to note that even Jack stoops a little bit to manipulation in his confrontation with Sawyer. I don't believe that Jack would actually hold back Sawyer's medicine for one moment; that would be too much guilt for him to bear, and we've already been down that road once before. But Sawyer recognizes the tactics, saying, "That's a nice story, Jack. And, even if it were true I don't think you could do it." He's right, but he gives up the case anyway, I think most likely because he thinks he's not going to get the damn thing open anyway, and why not let Jack have a useless go at it. Of course, he doesn't know about the key in Jack's possession. And none of them, not even Kate herself, are fully aware of the other thing that Jack holds in his possession: Kate's trust.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: being on the island is very good for Kate because it forces her to stay in one place, confronting her fears, and most importantly, forming relationships with people. Building trust. It's Jack she's closest to, as evidenced by this episode, but there's also Sayid and Charlie, and one might even argue, Sawyer. Being on the run for so long, it was most likely impossible for her to form anything more than a casual relationship. Anything else would be based on a lie. It's a pretty small island; there isn't anywhere else for her to go, or anyone else for her to trust. So when Jack hands her the envelope marked 'Personal Effects,' she can either run away a very small distance and alienate him, or she can choose to tell him the truth. She chooses the latter, or rather, a version of the latter as she pulls a tiny toy plane out of the envelope. "I want the truth, just this once. What is it?" he asks her, but what he's really asking her is 'What does it mean?' Through tears, she says, "It belonged to the man I loved." "The truth!" he insists. "It belonged to the man I loved," she repeats. "Stop lying!" he yells, convinced she's copping out. "I'm not!" she practically screams, and we can tell that she isn't. And then: "It belonged to the man I killed!" And she collapses, sobbing on a rock. He just walks away. It's really hard for me to get Jack in this moment. If somebody had just unburdened their soul to me of one of their deepest, darkest secrets, and they were obviously visibly upset about it, I don't think I could be as cavalier about it as Jack seems to be, even if he did have to drag it out of her. He obviously senses it's the truth, so whether or not he's angry at her for the revelation, or for taking so long to tell him, either way he isn't happy about being dragged into her shit. 

I can't help but wonder what Sawyer's reaction in this scene would have been. Certainly, it would have been markedly different. Earlier, he told her: "I don't really care what it is. What's burning me up is why it means so much to you." With Sawyer, whatever the case may be, he ain't judging. It's Kate he cares about, for whatever twisted reason, and finding out her secrets is just another way to get closer to her. For Jack, I think it's about trust, specifically Kate's lack thereof, but I also think it's about righteousness. For all his preaching about starting over and her crimes not mattering, it makes him angry when he's reminded of her fallibility, when she's forcibly removed from that pedestal he keeps her on. She puts on her pants one leg at a time, Jack, just like the rest of us.

Jack isn't the only one being a jerkface this episode; Sayid's right up there with him. Early on, Shannon asks Boone what he and Locke have been up to in the jungle for the past four days, and Boone tells her that he's trying to be helpful, that the others see them as a joke, and that Shannon is useless. This hurts Shannon, because Boone knows just exactly where to hit to make it hurt the most. So here's Shannon, beautiful sun goddess, still hurting from Boone's timely blows, when up comes Sayid with an offer to save her soul. Come with me, Shannon. I need your help, Shannon. You're the only one that can speak French, Shannon. Yes, he is offering her a chance to be of use, but in the process, he is using her. She even tries to warn him, telling him that her French isn't very good, and that she doesn't believe she'll be of any help to him. But she goes anyway, and he lets her come, because she needs to be of use, and he needs to use her. It's interesting to me the way that this show, and this episode in particular, equates unlocking secrets and hidden mysteries with being useful. Sayid, like Jack, isn't the type to sit around when someone needs rescuing, so even if there is nothing to be done, Sayid will find something to do. And he has these maps, these crazy-ass Rousseau maps that probably are just another reflection of her batshit crazyness, but he has to try, because if there is even a slight possibility that they might save Claire, save all of them, then he has to take it. We see him grow ever more frustrated with Shannon as she brings up nonsense phrase after nonsense phrase from this map of secrets, and we see him gradually losing faith in her, believing in the "joke." And as he loses faith, she loses it too, in herself, in him: "Okay, a) I told you that my French sucks, and b) this isn't my nonsense, okay? Did you ever think that after 16 years on mystery frickin' island your friend might not be quite adjusted?" But he just glowers and says, "This was a mistake." Yes, Sayid, it was a mistake for you to expect her to deliver you a miracle, and it was an even bigger mistake to blame her for you failure to produce answers.

Which leaves us with Boone and Locke. Before asking Shannon for her help, Sayid tells Jack, "Perhaps some things are best left untranslated," and he's right. Boone and Locke are on a mission to uncover the secrets of the island: a holy mission, filling them with purpose, with useful definition. After all, what could this hatch mean? People! They are not alone, and have never been alone, and if only they could get inside, reveal all of its secrets. Then they could save us all; from The Others, from the smoke monster, from ourselves. But Boone and Locke are acting alone, and in secret. Is it necessary that in order to uncover the deepest secrets, you must then become their secret keeper? Because that's what these two are doing. They've found a treasure chest, and they're keeping its possible treasures to themselves. In Boone's case, this is simply because he wants to be special, to have an identity apart from his sister. He wants to be The Hero. But Locke's got a different agenda, even now. He feels a connection to this place, has from the very start, that the others just don't feel. This is his secret alone to uncover, his and the pliable Boone's, but how far will he go in order to keep it? These two could probably benefit from the advice that Rose gives to Charlie; they all could.

It's worth noting that Rose is the only person not searching for something. Instead, she sits and watches, and what she sees is Charlie in pain. What she understands is how to help him. Charlie is so past the need to be useful that the only possible person on this island who could feasibly help him is Rose. Rose, who pulls him out of his head, reminding him that they're all human and that they all suffer. Who is he to sit on the beach and mope when everybody else is helping them move on? The tides on their beach have mysteriously started rising. The fuselage will soon be buried in sea water, and if they stay, they will, too. What Rose is asking Charlie to do is to simply stop wallowing in the rising tide and get up and join the rest of them, those who do not blame Charlie for what happened to Claire, but who are too preoccupied with the business of moving on, up the beach, to babysit a man who refuses to do the same. She tells him, "You know what I think, Charlie? You need to ask for help." Reach out to someone; remember that you are human. "Who's going to help me?" he asks. No one but yourself, Charlie. Rose tells him later that it's God that will help him, and she's right, but in more ways than one. "It's a fine line between faith and denial," she says, "And it's a lot nicer on my side." 

No man is an island, John Donne said. Even though they may be on an island, our Losties are not alone. Instead of wallowing in his own guilt and grief, healing for Charlie can only begin when he moves on, buries the past and puts it behind him. When Kate sees that toy airplane and acknowledges out loud, yes, I killed a man, and I am sorry. When Jack buries the Marshal back in the dirt of the jungle. Yes, bad things happened, and bad things will happen again; but if you ask for help, if you live together, you won't die alone. This is something that neither Kate, Sawyer, Boone, Locke, Sayid, and even Jack need reminding of right now, because it's a hard thing to remember: that if you don't ask for help, you won't get any, but if you do, you just might be saved. It's also a fine line between asking for help and using someone, between asking humbly with your hands raised, and taking someone else's dignity to preserve your own. Earlier when she left him, Shannon said to Sayid, "Yeah, haven't you heard? I'm completely useless." In that moment Sayid understood the difference: you can only ask so much of a person before it becomes taking, and then who knows what part of them you will be taking from. Luckily for Sayid, Shannon has found herself again. She remembered the lyrics. As she sings "Beyond the Sea" in French, we feel hope: that somewhere indeed, beyond that bright blue sea that surrounds them lies their salvation. For the girl by the fire who can't escape her past no matter how far she runs; for the man with the weight of an island on his shoulders, who has to learn that he can't save everybody; and for the boy in the shadows, smouldering with mysterious jealousy. It's there for them all.

Some quick, final thoughts. That waterfall is like a little present from the island to Kate and Sawyer: a demented present. I found Sawyer absolutely hysterical this entire episode; Josh Holloway sure knows how to milk a scene for everything it's worth. It's interesting to me the way that these characters so frequently blame the wind: Sawyer does it when he's following Kate around ("What? Do you smell blood on the wind?") and Sayid does it with Jack, denying the whispers he heard
back in the jungle ("It was the wind playing tricks"). It was also the wind who kidnapped Claire, made Jack cry, and makes Hurley say "Dude." Get it together, people. This island shit is weird; deal with it. I love Sun's one scene in this episode when she overhears Kate telling Jack about the case. It makes you wonder what else she has been privy to because nobody thought she could understand them. The way that Kate reacted to the dead body smell and the maggots reminds me of how I am when I have to scoop my cat's litter. Charlie's neck scar is looking particularly gruesome; it's a nice complement to his bleak attitude. I'd forgotten how strange and sweet Shannon and Sayid's relationship was at the beginning, all the way through, actually: It's nice. I can't help but think that Michael's advice to Sawyer about breaking into the Halliburton is incredibly useful. Yes, extreme impact can open something that is locked tight, but it can also destroy in the process. Much better to use cunning and finesse, both of which basically sum up Kate's entire attitude towards her past. Whatever the case may be--a Halliburton, a map, a door in the jungle, a safety deposit box, a troubled fugitive--the Losties probably would have been better off leaving well enough alone.

Questions Raised

1. What man did Kate kill/love? And is that murder the crime that she was being prosecuted for?
2. Why did Kate want the case so bad?
3. What is the significance of the plane?
4. Why are Locke and Boone hiding their findings from the group?
5. Why does Boone become so angry when he sees Shannon and Sayid together?

Questions Answered

1. Kate wanted the case because of the miniature airplane that was inside it, an airplane she once robbed a bank for, and which reminded her of the man she killed.

Mythology

1. The strange shifting of the tides.

Motifs/Themes

1. Guilt
2. Redemption
3. Being 'Of Use' vs. Using Others to Get What you Want
4. Faith
5. Starting Over/Moving On
6. Buried/Hidden Secrets

Death Count

n/a

Sawyerisms

1. To Kate: "Come on, Freckles, after all we've been through on this damn island, don't we deserve something good?" (recurring nickname use #7)
2. To Kate: "Something you wanna tell me about this little suitcase, Freckles?" (recurring nickname use #8)
3. To Kate: "Well, Freckles, I know you wanted it, just didn't know how bad." (recurring nickname use #9)
4. To Kate: "Whoa, easy, sweetheart."
5. To Jack: "But however she talked you into doing this, she lied, brother."

Character Connections

n/a

Songs

1. "La Mer," Charles Trenet a.k.a. "Beyond the Sea," Robbie Williams (more famously, Bobby Darin), at the end of
Finding Nemo

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing

Somewhere beyond the sea
She's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing

It's far beyond a star
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We'll meet beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We'll meet I know we'll meet
Beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

Together we'll be just you and me
Beyond the sea




A little present from the island.



Some things should stay buried.



The beginning of one of the sweetest, and strangest, relationships on television.



A cackling hyena, playing with its prey.



Pissing contest, take one-hundred.



Leaving it all behind; starting something new.



A beautiful sunset.



Rose, the only one who can really help Charlie, despite what she tells him.



What guilt looks like.


Lines of the Week

"I was protecting you!"
"From what? Southern perverts?"
"Oh, of course. I don't need protecting. I can take care of myself. 'Me Kate. Me throw rock'." Sawyer, trying his darndest to get in Kate's good graces.

"If you wanted to play rough all you had to do was say so." Sawyer, showing his playful side.

"There's no reason to be happy. Things are awful." Charlie, with his most depressing, and yet oddly hilarious, comment ever.

"Charlie! Nobody blames you." Rose, seeing to the heart of the problem.

"Because I needed to bury him." Jack, understanding about closure.

"Yeah. Haven't you heard? I'm completely useless." Shannon's real problem.

"I know you think you're doin' her a favor, but however she talked you into doin' this . . . she lied, brother." Sawyer, once again showing Jack that he understands Kate on a level that Jack just can't comprehend.

"It's a fine line between denial and faith, and it's a lot nicer on my side." Rose, giving Charlie some advice that everybody on the island could benefit from.
 
 
Current Mood: mellowmellow
 
 
 
amantium_irae: terribly vexedamantium_irae on May 9th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Jack isn't the only one being a jerkface this episode

I love how Kate lies, cheats, manipulates and uses, making him dig. up. the. dead. body. of. the. man. he. smothered. to. death. because of her and she'll ALWAYS be St. Katherine The Abused, no matter what.
Mistress of Lostie Islandprojectlost on May 9th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, I think I did point out that she was using everybody and being a turd the entire episode, but I think in that moment that Jack could have sucked it up. I mean, she just confessed something, like, really important and he just walks away. I'm not a Jack-hater. I like the guy, but I just find him very hard to like in that moment. (As opposed to earlier when he catches her palming the key and I think his reaction is actually pretty funny. Like, come on Kate, I'm not stupid. Hand over the key. And then he's like, I made you a promise to open this case, and I keep my promises...but then when she needs him the most he just...walks away. )
amantium_irae: armpornamantium_irae on May 9th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
but then when she needs him the most he just...walks away

Why is Kate entitled to understanding and support and poor wittle criminal-not-her-fault pats on the head from the same people she treats like crap? I realize SHE feels entitled to all that (she's pissed at her mom in Eggtown because it STILL doesn't compute for her that killing people= bad, no matter how big of a jerk they are) but I'm afraid I just can't agree with her on this one.
kewishem on April 13th, 2011 04:20 am (UTC)
Very intereresting reading. thx

mijatrot on April 13th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.